Civil engineering: ENE1621 session

Resources in civil engineering

Session activity

Searching workshop resources




Finding journal articles in Search (Tips)

Enter search terms and click Go

To see the rest of this guide which explains the process fully,  please view the attachment below.

Mind map tutorial and Boolean

Mind map tutorial showing how you can use a  mind map to build your search strategy

This tutorial takes three minutes to view

Boolean operators

Using boolean operators between the terms tells the database how to combine the terms in a meaningful way.

Planning your search strategy

This two page guide provides  worked examples for the steps listed on Developing a search strategy.

Developing a search strategy

This is a keyword search strategy. The most comprehensive search is a combined keyword and subject heading search.

  1. Define your question
  2. Identify the main search concepts. For each concept, brainstorm for alternative spellings and synonyms
  3. Combine search terms with OR/AND
  4. Use quotes to search for phrases
  5. Retrieve word variations using symbols (Note: these may vary in different databases - see tips)
  6. Consider which limits you want to use

To learn more, look at  the online tutorial "Developing a search strategy".

Finding journal articles in ScienceDirect

Finding journal articles in Compendex (Tips)

See document below for full instructions

Adjusting your search strategy

Consider your initial search strategy to be a first draft. Use it to search a database, check the results, then adjust the strategy as needed. You may produce a number of drafts before the search strategy is in its final form.

Your search strategy will need to be modified for each database. See the database search tips to faciliate this translation process.

If you retrieve too many results:

  • add another concept and combine with your previous result set using AND
  • use more specific keywords for your search terms or search terms as phrases rather than individual words
  • add limits
  • try proximity operators which dictate how close terms should be in the record - usage varies across databases, see database search tips

If you retrieve too few results:

  • use more general search terms
  • remove limits e.g. publication date limit
  • try a different database